Neve Gordon writes: Benjamin Netanyahu is truly a magician. Just this past Friday, most polls indicated that his Likud party would likely receive around 21 seats in the Israeli Knesset, four seats less than Yitzhak (Bougie) Herzog’s Zionist Camp (Labour Party’s new name).
Revelations of corruption at the prime minister’s residence followed by a damning comptroller report about the real estate crisis, alongside industrial downsizing, union strikes, predictions of a weakening economy, a diplomatic stalemate, and increasing international isolation all seemed to indicate that Netanyahu was on his way out. But just when it seemed that the Zionist camp would replace the nationalist camp, the crafty campaigner began pulling rabbits out of his hat.
As if his decision to alienate the Obama Administration over the Iran negotiations was not enough, Netanyahu began pandering to the right by notifying the world that Palestinians were destined to remain stateless since he no longer believed in the creation of another Arab state alongside Israel.
He presented the Likud party as the victims of a leftist media conspiracy aimed at ousting the right-wing government, while conveniently ignoring that his ally Sheldon Adelson owned Yisrael Hayom, Israel’s most widely circulated paper.
He entreated his voters to return “home” promising to address their economic needs. And on Election Day itself, he frightened the Jews by declaring that Israel’s Palestinian citizens were rushing to the polls in droves, thus presenting Palestinians who cast votes for their own representatives as an existential threat.
Pandering and fear mongering together with hatred for Arabs and the left are the ingredients of Netanyahu’s secret potion, and it now appears that many voters were indeed seduced. [Continue reading…]
Sheera Frenkel reports: For many of the Israelis who spoke to BuzzFeed News on election day, the decision to vote for Netanyahu was an emotional one. They spoke of Netanyahu’s last-minute media blitz – in which he gave five interviews in three days – and of feeling “safe” with Netanyahu as prime minister.
“He said things which made sense to me,” said Mordechai Zemut, a 39-year-old accountant who spent the day at the beach with his children before deciding at the last minute to rush to the polls and vote. “I wasn’t going to vote because I’m so sick of all Israel’s politicians. But then I realized that all these other left wing groups were voting and that I could wake up tomorrow with some kind of socialist, communist left-wing group in power.”
Zemut said he listened to Netanyahu’s appeal on Facebook, in which the Israeli premier talked about Arabs “voting in droves.” In previous posts, Netanyahu has referred to a global-backed conspiracy to support the left-wing and oust him writing, “Scandinavian governments have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to remove me from power.”
Speaking to Israel’s Reshet Bet radio station Wednesday morning, pollsters said they saw a significant uptick in voters going to vote in the late evening hours on Tuesday – which they said were likely “emotional votes” made in response to Netanyahu’s appeal.